FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The Willms Sunflower Festival opening has been postponed until Friday, August 4th, due to heavy rainfall in the area.
Les and Hannah Willms, owners of LH Willms Inc., hold the sunflower festival on five acres of their 3,000-acre property in Rose Prairie and had initially planned to open the festival to the public on Thursday.
Recent rainfall combined with the clay soil the sunflowers are planted in creates muddy, wet conditions in the sunflower field, making it difficult to navigate through. The Willms anticipate the forecasted warm, sunny weather over the weekend will dry out the paths in the field.
According to Hannah, the family has been growing sunflowers for approximately seven years.
“In 2020, we decided that our community needed something to do outside, so, we opened up for four days a week to have people come out and do some selfies in the sunflowers,” said Hannah.
“From there, this is our fourth season to open up to the public. It’s exciting that we’re able to do this, and show the sunflowers and have people come and enjoy it because it really brings a smile to everybody’s face when they’re in there.”
Les says the sunflowers thrive in the Peace region climate.
“We’re an operational grain farm, and we’ve used some of that equipment to seed this field,” said Les.
“It takes about two or three 50-pound bags of sunflower seeds that I get through my Pioneer Seed business, and it grows really good up here. We always have a nice, big flower.”
The sunflower field is an ideal location for photoshoots, wedding ceremonies, or picnics with family and friends. The Willms also produce sunflower honey which is available for purchase on location, or at some local farmers markets in the fall. The Willms ask festival-goers to be mindful of the bees while in the field.
“We have a couple of Epi-Pens on site for that,” said Hannah.
“If you’re walking in the sunflowers [off the path], sometimes if the bees get caught on you, they might sting. They’re fun to see when you’re in the field but just be aware of their presence because there is a lot of pollen and that’s part of farming too. We need these bees to pollinate.”
This year, the Willms installed a nine-hole mini-golf for festival-goers to enjoy.
“We decided to try an activity at the field for the kids, and for the adults who like to play,” said Hannah.
The cost of mini-golf is an extra $5 dollars on top of general admission to the sunflower festival, which is $10 dollars for adults. Admission for seniors and youth under 12 is $5 dollars, and children 2 and under can attend the festival for free.
The Willms Sunflower Festival kicks off on August 4th at 4 p.m. Festival hours are 4 p.m. until sunset, Thursday through Sunday. The festival will run for approximately three weeks, depending on the weather and the sunflowers’ longevity.